With nine weeks in the books for the high school football regular season, things are starting to take shape for programs in Hall County.
There’s three weeks left before the postseason.
Here’s a breakdown on where things stand in terms of the playoff race.
1. WHO’S IN?: North Hall
The Trojans are the only team in the county already guaranteed a playoff spot.
The Trojans went to 4-0 in 7-3A with a win against Gilmer in Week 9.
After a bye, the Trojans will face Cherokee Bluff (7-0, 3-0) on Oct. 29 in Gainesville, a game that will likely end up deciding the No. 1 seed to state.
The Trojans have come roaring back after a pair of non-region losses in August.
In four region games, the Trojans have allowed an average of 12 points per contest.
Leading the way for North Hall, in the running department, is senior Kevin Rochester, who now stands at 1,100 yards on the season.
2. ON THE CUSP: Cherokee Bluff.
As dominant as the Bears have been in the regular season, the defending 7-3A champion Bears still need one more win, or two losses from White County, to lock up another playoff berth.
At 3-0 in region play, White County (1-2 in 7-3A) is still in the running with a head-to-head matchup remaining on Nov. 5 in Cleveland.
However, Cherokee Bluff will likely have a playoff berth sewn up Week 12.
Led by 1,000-yard rusher Jayquan Smith and a defense that has held the opposition to single-digit points in all three region games, it will be surpise if the Bears don’t enter the postseason with a home game in Flowery Branch.
3. WORK LEFT TO DO: Gainesville and Flowery Branch.
The Red Elephants are 1-2 in Region 6-7A with a difficult slate left over the final three weeks with games against West Forsyth, Denmark and North Forsyth.
Gainesville will need to take 2 of its next 3 to extend a playoff streak that dates back to 2000.
On Friday, Gainesville visits West Forsyth (1-2 in Region 6-7A) in Cumming.
Both region losses for Gainesville and West Forsyth have been by single digit points, showing the parity in this seven-team league.
As for Flowery Branch, it has already played the most difficult stretch of region games, including losses to top-ranked Jefferson 27-7 and No. 10 North Oconee 14-7.
The Falcons spent the first six week of the season ranked in Class 4A, but fell out after losing to the Titans.
Flowery Branch rebounded with a 34-14 win against Cedar Shoals in Week 9.
4. ON THE BUBBLE: Chestatee.
The War Eagles are easily the most improved team in Hall County in 2021.
After going winless last season, the War Eagles (3-4, 1-2 Region 8-4A) are still a viable contender for the playoffs, which is a testament to the work of their head coach Shaun Conley and his staff.
However, the hardest part of the region schedule still remains for Chestatee, which next means a road trip on Friday to face No. 1 Jefferson (7-0, 3-0) on Friday at Memorial Stadium.
Losing 24-21 against Madison County on Oct. 15 certainly made Chestatee’s path to the playoffs a little harder.
5. STILL A CHANCE: Riverside Military.
For myriad of reasons, the Eagles (1-4 overall) have only played five games this season.
And in Region 8-2A, the Eagles are 0-1.
Their most recent game against No. 1 Rabun County was cancelled on Oct. 8.
With region games against Banks County (1-6, 0-2) and Elbert County (3-3, 1-0) remaining in the five-team league, Riverside Military can still earn its first playoff berth since 2018.
6. MATHEMATICALLY ALIVE: Even though West Hall has struggled, currently 0-4 in Region 7-3A, the Spartans are still clinging to a shred of hope. To get into the postseason, the Spartans would have to win their final two games (Gilmer and Lumpkin County) and also have White County (1-2 in region play) lose all of its last three games (Gilmer, Lumpkin County and Cherokee Bluff). White County owns head-to-head advantage over West Hall as a result of a 42-0 win on Oct. 15.
7. WHO’S OUT: Johnson, East Hall and Lakeview Academy.